Once a year, around the first week in June, we shear all of the alpacas on the farm. We hire a professional shearer to come and do the shearing. It is truly amazing to watch them.
Each animal is haltered, ropes are tied to their feet and they are gently laid on mats on the floor or onto a shearing table. The ropes are then tightened to stretch them out. This way, the alpaca is immobilized, so they won’t be cut accidentally by the electric shears, which are extremely sharp.
We need many helpers on this day, as the fiber has to be gathered once it is sheared off and bagged. We put the blanket, the finest fiber, i.e. the portion of the back and sides from the base of the neck and shoulders to the tail in one bag. The neck goes into another bag and the legs and belly go into a third bag.
The fiber is sorted and “skirted”, i.e. all unusable fiber is removed. The fiber is then sent to the mill to be washed, carded, spun into roving and then multiple rovings spun into yarn. It is then returned to us to be sold in our farm store.